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'I've always had a passion for engineering'

05 February 2020

From an early age, James Gibbons had a desire to combine his interest in technical design with construction. His passion has now led to a civil engineering apprenticeship with Arup

'I've always had a passion for engineering'
Arup apprentice James Gibbons

I have always had a clear passion for engineering and design, as my childhood aspiration was to become an architect. Throughout my level 3 studies, my eyes were opened to the wide range of opportunities that engineering had to offer. With the desire to combine my interest of technical design and construction, civil engineering was a clear career path for me.


When trying to decide between university or apprenticeships I carried out research on civil engineering firms involved in projects that interested me. Arup’s prestigious reputation in the civil engineering industry was apparent and I was determined to be a part of it.

When I first joined Arup I was enrolled on a Level 4 HNC in Construction and the Built Environment at City of Bristol College. I am now in the third year of my Civil and Environmental Engineering Degree at University of West of England.

Having studied Mechanical Engineering for 2 years at Weston College prior to starting at Arup, my HNC gave me a basic understanding of civil engineering principles. I am now expanding my knowledge and skills through my part time degree.

As an apprentice at Arup I work 4 days a week and study at university on day release. On a day-to-day basis I am responsible for the CAD output and management in the Bristol Infrastructure team. I work with engineers and technicians to produce a variety of highways, drainage and utility proposals to our clients and am gradually progressing onto more complex engineering tasks. I have frequent involvement with local authority adoption packages where I am exposed to highway and drainage design. I also have a lead role in managing external files and project set-up within the team.

Gaining essential knowledge skills

My most enjoyable moment so far was delivering a 10-minute speech on how civil engineers should take a leadership role in tackling the climate crisis. This was part of the judging process for the New Civil Engineer Apprentice of the Year award. This not only motivated me to carry out extensive research on climate crisis but also gave me the opportunity to present something I’m passionate about to a board of senior judges from across the engineering industry.

My short-term aspirations are to complete my Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship with a ‘first' and attain my IEng with ICE. Following my studies, I would like to focus on progressing my career within Arup. I would like my role to develop into project management-based engineering because I believe that is where my skills and interest will allow me to excel.

Read more on James' route to apprenticeship on his profile.

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  • James Gibbons EngTech MICE, Arup Apprentice at Arup